Falz aka Falz the Bahd Guy is a Nigerian rapper from Lagos State, Nigeria. Even before becoming a rapper, Falz has always been surrounded by social and political change growing up. His parents, Funmi and Femi Falana, are renowned lawyers and human rights activists and he graduated with an LLB honors degree in Law at the University of Reading England. In 2012 he was called to bar after graduating from the Nigeria Law School in Abuja.
Falz has always been vocal about social justice in his music. In October 2020, he called on many Nigerian celebrities to join the #ENDSARS protest in Nigeria. SARS stands for Special Anti-Robbery Squad. SARS was a Nigerian Police Force unit created in 1992 to handle crimes associated with robbery, motor vehicle theft, kidnapping, cattle rustling, and firearms. Over time SARS went from protecting Nigerian citizens to abusing them and being corrupt. SARS have committed illegal “stop and searches”, illegal arrests and detentions, extrajudicial killings, sexual harassment of women, and brutalizing of young male Nigerians. The #ENDSARS social movement first started on Twitter back in 2017, where people demanded the disbanding of SARS. In October 2020, the movement was revitalized after more stories and experiences with SARS were revealed. Solidarity protests and demonstrations broke out across Nigeria and the world. On October 11th, 2020, it was announced that the Nigerian Police Force was dissolving SARS with immediate effect. The announcement didn’t stop people from protesting because this wasn’t the first time that the government promised to disband SARS and it was revealed that they were going to reassign SARS officers to medical centers.
Then on October 20th, 2020 a peaceful protest was happening at the Lekki Toll Gate in Nigeria and armed men of the Nigerian Army arrived and opened fire on the peaceful and unarmed protestors. More than 12 protestors were killed and over 25 injured. This moment is known as the Lekki massacre and this is what inspired Falz’s music video for “Johnny”. When the music video came out he wrote a post saying:
“We will never forget the heroes that have been unlawfully slain. This is for them. For every single Nigerian life snatched away unlawfully, we must make sure we get justice. Almost two years since I released the audio. Even more disturbing to think that as time passed, the message became more relevant.”Folarin Falana “Falz”
This is the first verse in the song "Johnny" Johnny just drop Na person shoot am down Johnny wey dey innocent Johnny wey dey new in town They kill am for Jos For no just cause Nobody fit commot for house Dem no born us Johnny no get priviledge But Johnny want more Him wan go study Johnny say him wan be doctor Him family die for the same flaws (floors) Same floors wey him blood pour
Johnny means John Doe, a name used as a placeholder when you don’t know who someone is. Especially when someone passes away in the hospital and you don’t know their identity because they didn’t have any belongings on them. Johnny was new in town and “they kill am for Jos” is a reference to the police brutality in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria that has been happening since 2001. “Nobody fit commot for house” means that people are scared to leave their homes. The last six lines mean that in Nigeria when you are young and poor no one pays you any mind. The corrupted police officers can do anything to you because the justice system is shoddy and the only way you can get out of these situations is if you have money. Johnny wanted to go to school and become a doctor but he died trying to escape the fate of a poor man.
In the music video, Falz made sure to show the world how SARS treats Nigerians. SARS officers love to profile young Nigerians and if you are dressed a certain way, have tattoos, and/or certain hairstyles, SARS will approach you and the only way to get out of the situation is if you pay them. Notice in the video how the camera pans into the iPhone in Johnny’s hand. SARS loves extorting people when they see them driving in exotic cars or using iPhones and laptops. Nigeria has had a corrupt government for a while and the YOUTH is tired of it. Change will come one way or another and if we have to take it by force…then we will.
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